European vs American Hotels: Traveling With a Family

European vs American Hotels: what to expect from a typical hotel; shocking differences, prices, and tips. Our experience from Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

We didn’t check European vs American hotels differences before our trip and had a lot of surprises upon arrival :). From breakfast to the bedding in a crib for a baby, the local hotels were kind of an introduction to European culture.

Everything is smaller, you pay extra for what you expect to be free in the US, and nobody is breaking into a smile when seeing you or your little one.

What led us to Frankfurt

Frankfurt was the gateway of our 3 weeks journey around Germany and the final point after 3 weeks in the Netherlands before we got home to Seattle.

We have spent 5 nights total in Frankfurt and Amsterdam hotels.

Summer night at Frankfurt
Summer night at Frankfurt

European vs American Hotels: the average price for a family stay

Our first hotel in Frankfurt was near Hauptbahnhof, across the Ethiopian neighborhood. The price for the family room at Star Inn Hotel Frankfurt (below on the pic) in summer 2019 was 87 euro per night (2 adults, 2 kids, 1 baby) plus 14 euro per person for breakfast.

Unlike in the US, breakfast usually isn’t included. But we had an exception at our next hotel, Holiday Inn Express: we paid 80 euro for the family suite (2 adults, 2 kids, 1 baby) with breakfast.

Our explanation for no additional costs was simple – Holiday Inn is an American brand of hotels.

Pictured below: family suite: folding sofa for older kids and travel crib for 2 y.o.:

Typical european hotel, family room
Typical european hotel, family room

View from the balcony: endless construction, skyscrapers, and no traffic (just wait for the morning!):

View of the Frankfurt in the summer sun
Frankfurt in the summer sun

European vs American Hotels: one strange (for Americans) thing

The bathrooms in all hotels were incredibly smaller than in the US; usually, walk-in shower instead of the bathtub. And it’s not a joke but I was glad we are thin as the doorways were much narrower too.

Not a single suite we have traveled had (usual in the US) travel toiletries: conditioner, face cleansing towelettes, lotion, etc. All we had were 2 tiny dispensers: a soap and body wash/shampoo.

On the picture below – Amsterdam: you may have a room with floor-ceiling windows but… pay for 1oz. lotion to heal dry hands:

Andrew looking at the evening Amsterdam.  In 12 hours streets below will be filled with bikes
Andrew looking at the evening Amsterdam. In 12 hours streets below will be filled with bikes

European hotel: typical breakfast

Useful remainder at the elevator: when is the best time for breakfast to avoid crowds:

How to avoid crowds during breakfast time
How to avoid crowds during breakfast time

Compared with an American hot breakfast, the one we had in Europe was everything we could imagine: cheeses, smoked fish, grilled vegetables, all possible varieties of grains, and yogurts:

Our first "European" breakfast, $14 per person
Our first “European” breakfast, 14 euro per person

Breakfast we didn’t pay for at the Holiday Inn (it was included), was pretty much the same as the “paid” breakfast:

Breakfast was really good!
It was really tasty!

The breakfast we had in Amsterdam was great too, with similar ingredients.

Bed time: European version of the safe infant sleep

It seems like Germany has no fear baby can suffocate during sleep from soft bedding: it was neatly folded in every travel crib. What a shocking difference from the US!

The same story happened in the Netherlands: every place we stayed had a comforter and a baby pillow. Sometimes it was a down comforter. Guess where is the hottest summer in Europe? 🙂

Portable crib for a baby, Germany
Portable crib for a baby, Germany

The crib itself is narrower but much longer, than in the US. It was incredibly convenient: Andrew is tall and couldn’t fit in American ones since he was a year and a half.

Useful tip: how to save on luggage storage in Europe

In the picture below is luggage storage: we left our huge suitcase with presents from grandparents for 3 weeks there while we’re in the Netherlands.

The hotel isn’t responsible for any loss, but the room is locked and you can use it for free at any hotel where you stop at least for 1 night.

Storage room at the hotel near Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt
Storage room at the hotel near Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt

Beer time, pizza time

In Germany, the breakfast area inside and outside of the hotel magically transformed into a bar/cafe during the evening. We could buy alcohol at the reception during the day too but didn’t have any need :).

The menu was simple but pretty good. We tried to escape from the kids when they fall asleep, but they found us eventually :).

European and American Hotels has its pros and cons. In Europe, I really missed soaking in a bathtub after a long and exhausting day. One of the rooms was so cramped, we literally had to squeeze to get between the beds.

On the other hand, breakfasts were premium quality and the decent size of the baby crib was a big deal for us.

All the deals for European hotels we found on

P.S. Frankfurt. Movies and books

We love watching movies and read books before seeing new places. Although there are not so many about Frankfurt, I know some you may enjoy:

“Bye Bye Germany” (2017) is a movie about postwar Frankfurt. David Bermann and his friends, all Holocaust survivors, cooperate and try to get money and move to the USA. Comedy, drama, war. IMDb 6.5, 1 h. 40 min.

There are also two girls connected to the city.

One was forced to leave her birthplace, Frankfurt, very young. She tragically died because of her Jewish origin. Another girl was a Swiss orphan who had a pretty adventurous time in Frankfurt. They are Anne Frank and Heidi.

Anne and Heidi
Anne and Heidi

Thanks for reading, folks!

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By Mrs. Grazy Goat

I am Ira, the author behind Grazy Goat. My husband and I run this blog and share our experiences about thrilling places and cultures. Our son Artem recently joined us and helps with editing.

We are very happy to have YOU here 😻

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